The Kennet & Avon Canal trip boat "Kenavon Venture" based at Devizes Wharf is undergoing her annual mechanical check, engine inspection and general tidy up. She is manned by volunteers, who must all undergo training in health and safety measures. The photo right, shows her out and about in lock 48 last summer, taking parties of children and their families on 1.5 hours cruises up and down the canal. The boat can be chartered, and in early May a friend of mine is holding her "hen night" on the boat, a few days before she gets married. There will be a special cruise this year to celebrate "Mother's Day," and another evening "Jazz Cruise," complete with a fish and chip supper. These trips are great fun and very popular with foreign visitors to the town, who get the chance to see the canal from another angle.
This morning the side hatch has been removed, to enable a split in the metal to be welded. We suspect that in the night, the local Devizes "Yoofs" jump on the hatch, weaken the metal and cause the damage. The boat is moored here at Devizes Wharf, which in the 18th and 19th centuries was a busy place, engaged in the loading and unloading of the barges, as they carried goods between Bristol, Bath, Reading and London. A large wharf warehouse is now the "Wharf Theatre," and the canal museum, information centre, shop and cafe are housed in the old maintenance yards. I sat on the boat for an hour or so this morning with a friend, as we waited for the repaired hatch to be refitted.
The boat's interior is a bit of a mess at the moment, as the carpet and floor were recently lifted to enable a full inspection of the hull. The galley at the end has had some new shelves built to accommodate the assortment of snacks for sale on the trips. The boat has a licence, and sells beer and wine to the passengers. The tables are usually covered with pretty gingham tablecloths, and little vases of flowers add charm to the place. All very nice!